Film: Video Watch

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The Independent Culture
Live Flesh (18)

Available to buy now pounds 15.99

IN ITS full-blooded investigation of sexual and emotional motivation, this is the kind of satisfyingly complex film that no British or American film-maker would ever think of making. What's more, Pedro Almodovar succeeds where he hasn't since Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down in finding a screenplay worthy of his insight.

This adaptation of a novel by Ruth Rendell is a convoluted and melodramatic thriller: a young man accidentally shoots a policeman in the process of rescuing a well-to-do druggy girl. A few years later, he emerges from prison to find that the same policeman, now wheelchair-bound, has married the girl. So, he embarks on a physical relationship with the wife of the disabled policeman's violent partner. A flurry of passion, blood and wheels, it all seems in keeping with the film's opening scene: the birth of the young man to a prostitute aboard a bus, 20-odd years before. Don't let the plot faze you. Set in the context of Spain's post-Franco social liberation, this compelling soap opera, now vulgar, now mature, still finds time to illustrate the knotty nature of love and machismo with characteristic verve.